Spartans advance to state championship game
GREEN BAY — The Superior High School girls basketball team is assured of at least a second-place finish in the 2014 WIAA Girls State Basketball Tournament after defeating Mukwonago 51-49 Friday night at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
Superior (24-3) will play Oak Creek (25-2) in the championship game at 8:15 p.m. Saturday. Oak Creek advanced with a 46-40 overtime victory against previously undefeated Kimberly.
“The girls made history for our school right now,” said Phil Roe, Superior head coach. “No girls program has gone to the championship, and only one team in Superior — 1974 boys — went to the state title game where they won the gold ball. And we’ve got a chance to do that right now. It’s pretty amazing.”
Friday’s game came down to a pair of free throws with eight-tenths of a second left on the clock. Superior’s Jessica Lindstrom made both shots to give the Spartans a two-point lead, and after four timeouts Mukwonago was unable to get off a shot in the time remaining.
“I would never have guessed it would have ended that way, but we knew free throws would be the deciding factor,” Lindstrom said. “We’ve been practicing them all year. We shoot like 40 at a time, and we do that three times a practice.”
Lindstrom finished with a team-high 20 points and 18 rebounds. She also set a new Division 1 playoff record for the most free throws made in a game by going 15-of-18 at the line. The previous record of 13 free throws had been reached by four players, most recently in 2009 by Chelan Landry of Milwaukee Vincent and Adrian Ritchie of De Pere.
Hailey Kontny also had a double-double for the Spartans with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
As a team, Superior outrebounded Mukwonago 42-27. The Spartans finished the night with 21 second-chance points, compared to just six for Mukwonago.
“I want to definitely give credit to the Superior team. They did a great job on the boards,” said Rick Kolinske, head coach of the Indians.
Lindstrom and Kontny, in particular, were a headache for Mukwonago on the offensive glass. Kontny finished with six offensive rebound and Lindstrom finished with five, including one with a second to play that set up her game-winning free throws.
“It’s tough, it’s tough,” Kolinske said. “We did our best to keep her off the boards. Unfortunately that last play that won the game was her getting an offensive rebound.”
Mukwonago controlled the game for much of the first quarter as Superior got off to a sluggish start. The Spartans missed three layups in the opening minute and a half to fall behind 6-0.
The Indians had a chance to go up 8-0 but missed a layup of their own. Lindstrom pulled down the rebound, and Kontny finally put Superior on the board with a jumper at 3:29.
“I kept telling them, ‘We’ve got to keep running; we’re just warming up.’ That’s what I told the girls about three times,” Roe said. “Those transition points, especially in the second half, really opened some things up for us.”
Mackenzie Kmecik made Superior’s first transition bucket with 2:02 left in the first quarter on a pass from Kontny. The next time down the floor, Lindstrom stepped back for a 3-pointer from the right corner to give Superior its first lead of the night, 7-6.
Mukwonago’s Alexis Mckeever answered with a 3-pointer, and Lindstrom sank two free throws in the last minute to tie the game at 9-9 after one quarter.
The score was tied three times in the second quarter and the lead changed four times as the Spartans and Indians traded baskets. Bre Cera made the final basket of the quarter to give Mukwonago a 24-22 lead, but Superior outscored the Indians 13-10 in the third quarter to take a one-point lead into the final eight minutes.
Kmecik gave Superior a 37-34 lead with a shot off the dribble to start the quarter, and Lindstrom pushed the lead to five with a pair of free throws moments later.
Megan Schallock converted on a three-point play for Mukwonago at 6:30 to cut Superior’s lead to 39-37, and the lead remained at two after the teams traded free throws.
With 5:05 to play, Alyssa Correll knocked down her second 3-pointer of the night to give the Spartans a 44-39 edge, and Superior remained in front until Cera tied the game at 47-47 with a layup at the two-minute mark.
Correll gave Superior the lead again with a driving shot off the glass, but Mukwonago answered to leave the score tied at 49-49 with 54 seconds left.
Superior held the ball for the last shot, and with 0.8 second left Lindstrom drew a foul after snaring an offensive rebound.
“She works extremely hard. I mean that girl never gives up, every play,” Kolinske said. “So we knew she was going to be tough on the glass. She’s very physical, and like I said just a tenacious player.”
Lindstrom made her first free throw before the officials realized Mukwonago’s Courtney Mckeever had fouled out. Mckeever was sent to the bench and, after a slight delay, Lindstrom was awarded the point. She then made her second free throw to give the Spartans the 51-49 victory.
Cera finished with 20 points to lead Mukwonago.
Correll ended the night with 12 points for Superior, and Kmecik added eight points. Correll is a junior and Kmecik is a sophomore.
“They were fearless, and they stepped up big on the big stage,” Roe said. “I felt Mackenzie scored some key buckets at key moments, and so did Alyssa with that 3-pointer. That was really big at a crucial moment; we really started getting the momentum and getting the crowd there.”
For the night, Superior was 18-of-26 at the free-throw line. Mukwonago made 9-of-11 free throws.
SPARTAN SPIN: Lindstrom has signed to play for UW-Green Bay next season, and Cera, a sophomore, has given a verbal commitment. Lindstrom called Cera and “awesome player” and said she looks forward to playing with her. “We had awesome defense on her and she still scored 20. She’s just a good player,” Lindstrom said. “I was honored to play against her because the next time I’m going to see her we’ll be on the same team.”
Cera also said she enjoyed playing against her future teammate.
“We haven’t really met before this, but it was kind of cool playing against her,” she said. “I’m going to enjoy being her teammate in the future, but it’s hard since she’s the one that finished off the game. I have a lot of respect for her.”
Superior 9 13 16 16 — 51
Mukwonago 9 15 10 15 — 49
Superior — Jessica Lindstrom 20, Alyssa Correll 12, Hailey Kontny 11, Mackenzie Kmecik 8.
3-point goals — Correll 2, Lindstrom.
Mukwonago — Bre Cera 20, Courtney Mckeever 8, Megan Schallock 7, Ellie Michalski 6, Morgan Glatczak 5, Alexis Mckeever 3.
3-point goals — Glatczak, A. Mckeever.